Sunday, July 12, 2015

List: 04 How to Load Your Pack

You have all your stuff and are ready to pack. How should you put it in the pack?

The best plan is to put lighter, bulkier stuff at the bottom. Your sleeping bag, extra clothes, repair kit and sleeping pad all go at the bottom of your pack. Put the heaviest stuff on top of that and against your back.

Cookware, the stove, tent poles, heavier food and so on should be against your back with lighter items like your towel, rain gear and tent (or hammock) between that and the front of your pack to keep it from shifting at all. The weight against your back keeps the load from pulling your shoulders more. On top of that layer goes the rest of the food, your fleece/puffy and rain gear and your first aid kit. Keep your map, compass, camera, snacks, notepad and water bottle in your outside pockets or a fanny pack turned around to your front. You can clip your hat and bandanna to the outside when not in use.

Always have several big trash bags along, you can put wet gear in them either in your backpack in the case of a soaked tent or in your tent in the case of soaked clothing and shoes.

Use a tiny flashlight as the zipper pull on your pack and you will always have a quick way to see what you are digging around for.

Get a system in place for stuff sacks and gear/food. Keep your food packed together either by day or by meal, keep all toiletries in one colored bag, first aid in another, rain gear in a third and so on. This will make organization simple once you have learned your system and will ensure you don't forget anything if you load your gear the same way each time, it will be obvious immediately that your small red first aid sack slipped behind the log you were sitting on the night before.

Do not head out without knowing how to use your gear, even if you upgraded to a newer version of what you already had. Read the troubleshooter tips for filters, stoves and so on and make sure you know how to deal with possible common problems. Set up your tent or hammock several times to get a really good feel for how everything goes. It may be dark or raining when you arrive at your site. If it's raining and your tent is mesh with a rain fly, practice putting it together upside down so the bottom gets wet instead of the inside floor and then flip and slap on the fly super fast.

Look at your gear and decide what can do double duty. 

Unless you are going for just one night or it's otherwise a relaxed trip, don't take anything you think, "Just In Case" about.

a properly loaded pack is the key to a comfortable hike

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